Written by Leapers
Thousands of people are likely to be working from home for the first time this week due to the coronavirus outbreak. For others, it’s just like any other week.
About 1.5 million people work from home, and it’s becoming more popular all the time.
So if you’re not self-isolating, but have been told to work remotely, what’s the best way to stay efficient and keep your spirits up?
1. Get dressed
For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most tantalising aspect of working from home. But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.
Whether you need to change into business attire depends on the type of person you are and the nature of the job you have. Some people find that dressing formally is helpful, and also useful if they need to dial into a video call.
But for many others, the point of getting dressed is being forced to shower and change out of clothes they associate with sleep and rest, even if that means just changing into a T-shirt and jeans.
Wearing respectable clothes also increases motivation to leave the house. Likewise, changing out of work clothes when you clock off for the day helps your brain to understand that the working day is over.
2. Establish boundaries
If you’re employed by a company, you’ll probably have set hours of work, and it’s important to stick to these when you’re working from home. Be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive in your office or workplace, and finish your day at the same time.
Em Sheldon, a blogger and freelance writer, says she sticks to a routine while working from home. She advises “going to bed at a reasonable hour so that you get enough sleep and then wake up at your usual time.
When working from home, it is best to stick to a routine and finish your day at a usual time
“I also find things like booking in a workout or getting my gym kit ready means I have to get up and go,” she says. “Once you do something over and over, it becomes a habit, so the first week may be challenging but eventually it becomes part of your routine.”
At the end of a working day, it’s best to switch off your computer and tidy away papers and other items. Space allowing, set aside a specific, separate area in your home where you can set yourself up – ideally with a properly adjusted desk and chair, similar to your workplace.
The NHS advice is that you should adjust your chair so you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor.
If there are other people in the house, finding a space where you’re not likely to be disturbed is essential, as Prof Robert Kelly found out the hard way in 2017. He was being interviewed live by BBC News when his two children burst into the room, creating a now infamous video, which has been viewed more than 30 million times.
It’s also important to not “overcompensate” because you’re anxious about working from home, says Ross Robinson, who manages a team of freelancers at his Ignata Consulting firm.
“Many people tend to over communicate when working from home – either wanting to ‘be seen’, or overcompensating to ensure people know what they are up to. That’s fine – but don’t go over the top. You know if you’re on task and being productive – keep yourself in check.”
3. Get out and about (if you’re not self-isolating)
Working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. While you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day.
So get your shoes on, get outside and enjoy that fresh air. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you’re struggling with.
Getting out and about can help increase creativity and help undo mental blocks
If you can’t go outside, you could even bring the atmosphere of the office to you.
4. Pick up the phone
If you’re working from home, the chances are you’ll be alone, so you won’t get distracted by colleagues’ conversations and other office noise.
When you’re at work, you’re more likely to engage with colleagues but when you’re working from home, you could spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating.
It’s easy to spend the day without speaking to anyone so it’s a good idea to call workmates or friends for a chat
Make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, rather than relying on email and instant messaging.